Barb's Imagination

Let’s Talk About Graduation Caps

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D.J. and I

My friend D.J. and I were all smiles after our graduation ceremony. We both received associate degrees in graphic design from Waukesha County Technical College.
Notice how D.J. is wearing her graduation cap correctly while I skewed
the placement of my cap in a vain effort to accommodate my hair!

Can anything more ugly perch on a woman’s head than a thin, black square of cardboard sewn to a beanie?

I think not.

I’ve had the “pleasure” of wearing this cap twice — once for my graduation from Crawfordsville High School and once for my graduation from Waukesha County Technical College. And while I am so looking forward to my May graduation from Mount Mary College, I am not looking forward to wearing that cap a third time.

Why? Because I know it’s going to ruin my hair. (Those of you in my 8 a.m. Brit Lit class won’t believe this, but I am usually pretty picky about how my hair looks.)

As I was discussing my hair dilemma with my friends Helle and Jen, I was reminded of the distinct tradition attached to the graduation cap. So I did a bit of online reading about the graduation cap.

In summary, I learned the graduation cap is called a “mortarboard” because its design is similar to the cap masons and bricklayers wore with pride during the Middle Ages. The cap had a twofold purpose: practical and social.

Practically, the men would pile mortar on top of the hat because the mortar could easily be scooped off and applied to the stone or brick they were working on.

Socially, the cap indicated that the wearer had successfully completed his studies and internship and was now considered a professional in his chosen field.

Those are good reasons for wearing a really ugly cap.

Then I read this line written by Janet Beal, an eHow contributor, in her article titled “How to Wear a Graduation Cap.” “You’re part of an important celebration, and, no matter what it does to your hair, your cap is an important part of that celebration,” Beal said.

As I read her comment, I felt like my mother had just pinned me to the wall with one of her searing looks of silent reprimand, which clearly communicated to me: “Quit complaining. Your hair will survive the cap.”

Yes, Mom. My attitude has now been chastised and corrected.

Graduation will be an emotionally high day for me as I celebrate the achievement of a life-long dream. However, it will be a physically flat day for my hair that will be captured and pinned underneath this really ugly, but eminently honorable cap.

I think my hair will survive the cap.

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Author: barbsimagination

I'm a nontraditonal college student studying graphic design and English professional writing.

2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Graduation Caps

  1. Pingback: What’s Next? | brooke johnson, graduate

  2. Hey Barb,
    I think that cardboard square on top will be well worth it! Just make sure you use enough bobby pins and hairspray and SMILE:)
    Love the Pic!! Grads coming sooon.

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